Lori Gottlieb,

Lori Gottlieb,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Aug. 18 1998 3:30 AM

Lori Gottlieb,

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

       A call from a Hollywood executive wakes me up, which means I've slept late, because no one in Hollywood ever gets in before 10 a.m. She runs the West Coast office of the company that recently bought the film rights to my book. We talk about an upcoming trade announcement, then she asks how the MCAT went. I tell her it was a disaster, but she says not to worry, that I'm going in the wrong direction anyway. "The wrong direction?" I ask. "You know," she explains, "it's supposed to be doctors who become writers, not writers who become doctors--look at Michael Crichton, Ethan Canin, Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen." "Yeah, yeah, and Keats and Chekhov," I add, but they don't have movie deals, and I'm not sure she gets the reference.
       I go to sign up for fall courses. I choose biochemistry but can't decide between anatomy and microbiology. Microbio has six hours of lab per week, and the thought of spending my otherwise pleasant afternoons culturing virulent bacteria makes anatomy the winner. I'm in the bookstore buying a textbook with glossy images of bloody body parts--skin peeled away, fascia exposed--when a cute guy strikes up a conversation. "Wanna get a beer sometime?" he asks after we pay at the register. "Yeah, sure," I say, and I give him my number, but then I realize that he's probably 10 years my junior and that when you're 20 years old, "Wanna get a beer sometime?" is code for asking someone on a date. I want to tell him that I'm too old for him, that when I go on dates it's usually to places that have fish forks instead of kegs, but before I can say anything he's already strutting away in his unlaced high tops, a huge grin on his face.
       Back at home, today's mail is bulging through my mail slot. My regular mailman--the one who, upon hearing me play an especially difficult run on the piano, once said, "Wow! You sound just like that guy in The Shining"--is on vacation, so the mail came earlier than usual. I sort through the fat envelopes--secondary applications from medical schools--then The New Yorker, then the bills, and save the two handwritten envelopes for last. One turns out to be an invitation to my ex-agent's L.A. book signing. She's become an author, so a few weeks ago I signed with a new agent, but it was a difficult separation, akin to breaking up with a boyfriend. We spent two hours on the phone the night we "broke up," then the next day I called her about a loose business end and it was terribly awkward. "I didn't sleep much last night," I confessed. "Me neither," she sighed. "I guess it just takes time."
       I'm shocked to discover that the second envelope is from a renowned physicist who's working on a manuscript. He wonders if a creative type like me--one with a science background--might be interested in collaborating. I look over his extensive résumé and catch phrases such as "Congressional Committee," "White House Citation," "Nobel Laureate," "patents," "Special Representative to the President," "NASA," "New York Times," "CNN," "20/20," "Director of International Consortium." I don't really hang with the Nobel laureate crowd, so I fax my agent the résumé to see if she thinks this is a joke. I call a physicist friend and learn that the guy is for real. My agent beeps in and says that working with scientists on commercial manuscripts can be either incredibly rewarding or a flat-out nightmare. She suggests I give him a call, but when I get his voice mail I realize I can't pronounce his consonant-heavy name the way my physicist friend did, so I avoid it altogether and hope the message doesn't sound completely lame.
       In the afternoon, I pick up my pile of med school applications. I've already shelled out $500, written an essay, listed every course I've taken in my entire life, and answered questions about demography, ethnicity, gender, marital status, and fiscal fitness. Now I have the honor of writing several more essays and enclosing another $75 to $95 per school. "If you were admitted to our Esteemed School of Medicine, what could you contribute?" one application asks. The admissions people are a pretty straightforward bunch, so I write something boring about perspective and real-world experience, then I look at another application: "Please describe your greatest flaw," it requests. I start to write about my butt--how it used to be perky and tight and how once I hit 30 I've noticed it sinking a bit--but then I think: WAIT. This is a med school application, not a Cosmo quiz. I search my mind for an egregious character flaw, but I can't think of anything worse than the fact that sometimes, if I need an excuse to get off the phone, I fake call-waiting and say it's New York and I must go.
       I meet my father for dinner at a restaurant on the beach, where we watch the Clinton "speech" with the rest of the people at the bar. A woman next to me says, "I hope Hillary dumps the sleazebag the minute he's out of the White House," and everyone cheers. When I get home, there's a message on my machine from Matt, last night's date. The electronic voice mail informs me that he called at 7:02 p.m., which means he was one of maybe three people in America not tuned into Monicagate. I decide I kind of like Matt, parking technique notwithstanding. I consider calling him back, but instead I blast my Shine CD and dance naked in my living room, not caring about whether the postman thinks I'm Geoffrey Rush or Jack Nicholson.

Lori Gottlieb is Los Angeles-based writer whose first book, Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self, is forthcoming. She is currently applying to medical school.